Perfecting His Craft, Expanding His Family
Wayne Loomis (better known to his customers as Dr. Detail) prides himself on an expansive inventory of professional car-care products.
As customers enter the front door, a peaceful chime echoes through the shop. There is a meticulous order to every product display, and yet the store feels quaint and inviting. And as the chime fades, a warm inquisitive voice asks, “What brings you in today, friend?”
The question is direct and sincere, striking the exact tone of a close acquaintance who is genuinely looking to help out. This is the precise mission for Wayne Loomis—a chemist turned entrepreneur and owner of the Dr. Detail store in Fullerton, California.
The shop is known for offering an extensive range of professional-grade automotive cleaning/detailing products.
Loomis’ desire as a shopkeeper extends far beyond the typical small-business principle of customer service and instead focuses on a simple yet earnest task: Treat each customer like family and create an environment that feels like home. The results speak for themselves.
In our short time spent interviewing Loomis (Dr. Detail), he demonstrated his mission to make all feel welcome, and he looks forward to an upcoming store remodel/expansion.
SEMA News: Give us a quick history of Dr. Detail. How did it come to exist?
Wayne Loomis: The foundation of the business began as a trusted partnership between myself and my mother, Margaret Loomis. She was a firm believer in the idea of “not rusting out but rather wearing out” in retirement, so we started a business in 1987, and she ran the books. She did so perfectly until she passed away in 2004.
What started as an endeavor to sell aesthetic home goods eventually turned to the space I felt most comfortable with—automotive. I spent years as a chemist, developing products for a major printing company, so the scientific jargon associated with car-care products was not so daunting to me. In 2011, I opened the location we are still in today, with the intention of servicing the professional detailer and body repair worker as well as the private enthusiast.
SN: What would you say makes your retail space unique?
WL: I think that it comes down to the details. I get so many comments from customers regarding how much they like the small size and functionality. What they don’t know is just how much planning went into this. I actually visited several other similar stores before opening my own, just to visualize things, configurations that I didn’t like. At Dr. Detail, I use bright, powerful lighting to showcase product. There is typically some soft jazz playing in the background. Every subtle detail that may seem unnecessary is done with the intention of being inviting.
As a general rule, Dr. Detail does not carry “consumer-grade” products. His motto is the best professional products at a reasonable price with proper expertise.
SN: Your business is aimed at multiple categories of customers. Why is that the case, and what is the goal?
WL: From the beginning, my goal was to cast a wide net and make sure that my store is the go-to location for everyone from the regular consumer looking to detail a car on a Saturday all the way up to master detailers who are very meticulous about which products they use. The goal is to offer the same expertise to all of my customers and get them the right product for the job, regardless of their needs. My network of detailers has grown to around half of the business I do each day. They know that I carry the right products in the industrial sizes they need most. One-stop shopping is the end goal.
I sell a number of car-care products, all from renowned manufacturers, but that is only one segment of my business. Gleaning insights from my years in chemistry, I also sell “soft” water to mobile detailing companies. I have a massive 2,500-gal. water tank equipped with the proper machinery to take the contaminants out of ordinary California water. This process—when done correctly—is rather arduous and requires constant observation. The end result, however, is pure water that will never leave water spots on the paint. I invested in the infrastructure to develop the soft water, and now I sell through all 2,500 gal. on a very frequent basis.
The detailers know that they can trust me to provide them with the right tools for the job. I also repair pieces of equipment such as power washers and other professional tools. If a tool can be repaired rather than replaced to save the detailer some money, I want to make sure I can help out with that.
SN: Describe your relationship with your customers and why that is such an important facet of what you do.
WL: If you don’t serve the customer, it really doesn’t matter what you sell. The clichés are used far too often, but I really do make it my goal to treat every customer who walks in the door with the highest level of honesty and integrity. Those very words are in my company mission statement. In the case of my detailers, they are making a visit to the store essentially every day to purchase water, so that gives me a unique opportunity to build friendships. They tell me about their lives, their families, and I share stories about mine. They’re integral to what I do, so it only makes sense to nurture those relationships.
Bright, color-correct overhead lights make finding products an easy endeavor.
SN: In 2018, you plan to expand the store. Tell us more about that and what’s to come.
WL: We are expanding. The inventory has just become too intrusive. It is necessary to keep that amount of product to best serve the customer, but that doesn’t allow for a great store layout. With the expansion, we are taking over our next-door neighbor’s lease, which will provide an additional 900 sq. ft. of storage to work with. I have always thought it would be best to expand our current location rather than open multiple stores.
1115 W. Orangethorpe Ave.
The expansion may differ from how another retailer might do such a thing, because I am committed to making the space functional for my customers. The new space will offer a dedicated area for professional detailers to come, work and relax. I will have a place to make calls, set up appointments and go over receipts. There will also be a coffee center to refuel after a long day. And perhaps what I am most excited about, a laundry center, which will allow detailers to wash their microfiber towels in our special deionized water, ultimately preserving their functionality and saving the professionals money—not to mention saving them from going to a laundromat after a full day’s work.
Our expansion is likely set to be completed mid-summertime. Beyond that, the future is looking bright for us. I would eventually like to hire an employee or two, but only after they have completed several months of training. All things considered, I am doing it the way I want to—and I’m grateful for it.